Best Ideas for How to Attract Songbirds to Your Yard

Learn how to attract songbirds with some of our unique ideas. With these techniques we have attracted cedar wax wings, warblers, and robins! Creating a habitat inviting to songbirds involves several key elements, each attracting various species.

The initial step is offering a variety of food sources, including seeds, fruits, and insects. It is equally important to accommodate their nesting preferences and provide safe havens for them to rest and raise their young. Songbirds require a space that mimics their natural habitat with the right mix of foliage, open spaces, and water features for the environment to be appealing.

Safety is another primary concern when encouraging songbirds to visit often. Predators, toxic plants, and human-induced hazards can deter and harm birds. Minimizing these dangers, alongside optimizing the conditions throughout the year, can make your garden an irresistible destination for songbirds in every season.

Critical Takeaways for How to Attract Songbirds to Your Yard

How to Attract Songbirds

  • Various food sources, safe nesting areas, native flowers, and similar natural habitat features are crucial for attracting songbirds.
  • Ensure the garden environment is safe from predators and free of toxins to make it appealing to avian visitors.
  • Tailor the garden to meet the changing needs of songbirds through different seasons to maintain their presence year-round.

Understanding Songbirds: What Do They Like?

Songbirds are so much fun to listen to, and attracting them to your garden adds musical charm. These birds belong to the order Passeriformes and are marked by a unique arrangement of their toes, which facilitates perching. Each species has its distinct song, which they use to communicate and attract mates.

To create a welcoming environment for songbirds, consider the following:

Cedar Waxwings LOVE berries!

  1. Food Sources: Offer a variety of food such as seeds, berries/fruits, and suet. Place these in feeders of different heights to cater to various species. Check out our unique bird feeder ideas for inspiration!
  2. Fresh Water: Birdbaths or shallow dishes with clean water will attract songbirds for drinking and bathing. A good bird bath is imperative!
  3. Shelter: Plant native shrubs and trees to provide safe nesting sites and protection from predators.
  4. Garden Habitat:
  • Avoid pesticides, as they harm the insects many songbirds feed on.
  • Create a layered landscape with ground cover, shrubs, evergreen trees, and tall trees for varied wildlife.
  • Dead trees or snags can serve as nesting sites.

Here’s how to recognize some common songbirds by their features and songs:

  • American Robins: They have a rusty red breast and a song that is a series of clear whistles.
  • Blue Jays: Bright blue plumage, a loud and jay! jay! call.
  • Northern Mockingbird: Gray and white plumage can mimic other birds’ songs.
  • Golden-Winged Warbler: a small songbird that’s grey, yellow, and black.
  • Cedar Waxwing: Brownish yellow feathers with a shiny black mask and red spots on the wings
  • Red-eyed Vireo: An olive green bird 4-5 inches long with a red iris and grey crown.
  • Gray Catbird: Relatives of mocking birds, they are all grey and love to mimic!

Cute Catbird in NYC

Learn more on how to attract Cedar Waxwings

Learn more on how to attract cedar waxwings with these easy yard ideas.

Remember, patience is vital, as it may take time for wild birds to find and feel secure in your garden. Keep maintaining the habitat; soon enough, you will enjoy the symphony created by these beautiful creatures.

Creating a Welcoming Habitat for Songbirds

Your garden should offer a variety of plants, ample shelter, and reliable water sources to attract songbirds. Here’s how to make your backyard a favored habitat for these melodious visitors.

Be sure to check out our guide on birdwatching for beginners too!

Plant Selection for Attracting Songbird Bird Species

To make your landscape appealing, focus on diversity by incorporating a mixture of native plants such as juniperdogwoodviburnum, and asterBerry-producing plants like serviceberryblueberryelderberryholly, and sumac are excellent for providing food. 

Additionally, interweaving annuals and perennials such as coreopsis, black-eyed susan, and marigold ensure a long season of blooms. Remember that flowers are not just colorful; they attract insects and are a food source for birds. Many bird species like cardinals, White-breasted Nuthatches, goldfinches, and sparrows love to feed on black-eyed susan seeds!

Learn more about how to attract FINCHES

Plant Black-eyed susans to attract songbirds

  • Trees & Shrubs: Add flowering crabapplesprucechokeberry, and blueberry to offer a mix of shelter and food sources.
  • VinesCoral honeysuckle and trumpet vine provide both nesting spots and nectar.

A List of Annuals for a Bird-Friendly Garden

​Did you know planting flowers is a great way to attract songbirds to your yard? You’ll see different species of songbirds start to appear in your yard. Native species are especially helpful!

  • Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus): Their large seeds are favorites among songbirds, such as finches, cardinals, and chickadees.

  • Zinnias (Zinnia elegans): These colorful flowers attract insects, attracting insectivorous birds.

plant flowers to attract songbirds

  • Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus): Many bird species love their seeds, which attract insects that songbirds on.

  • Marigolds (Tagetes spp.): While better known for deterring pests, their seeds can attract birds once the flowers have died.
  • Amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus): Mostly Known for their grain-like seeds that appeal to many songbirds.

  • Zinnias (Zinnia elegans): These vibrant and colorful flowers beautify your garden and attract insects, drawing in insectivorous birds. They’re easy to grow and can provide food for birds throughout the summer and fall.

  • Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) – Its seeds appeal to cardinals and other backyard birds.
  • Bachelor’s Buttons (Centaurea cyanus) – These flowers can attract birds with their seeds and insects.

  • Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) – While they’re often grown for their edible flowers and leaves for humans, their seeds can also attract birds.
  • Asters (Aster spp.) – Though some are perennials, there are annual varieties that provide seeds for songbirds in late summer and fall.

  • Scarlet Salvia (Salvia splendens): This plant is known for its striking red flowers, which can attract hummingbirds and seed-eating birds when they go to seed. While it’s primarily known for its visual appeal and nectar, the seed heads that follow the flowering period can also provide food for various bird species.

When planning your garden, consider the timing of when these plants will produce seeds or attract insects to ensure a consistent food source for birds throughout the growing season.

Also, incorporating a mix of perennials, shrubs, and trees alongside these annuals can create a more diverse and inviting habitat for songbirds.

A List of Perennials That Songbirds Like

While a backyard bird feeder is a great idea, nothing beats planting flowers in your garden. One of the best ways to attract songbirds is simply planting flowers! Here are some ideas!

  • Coneflower (Echinacea spp.): In late summer and fall, coneflower seed heads are particularly attractive to finches and other seed-eating birds.

  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): These flowers produce seeds that attract various birds, and their bright yellow petals add beauty to any garden.

  • Blazing Star (Liatris spicata):  Attracts butterflies and bees, which in turn can attract insectivorous birds. Its seeds are also appealing to some bird species.

  • Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum): Tall and stately, this plant attracts butterflies and other insects and is a food source for birds.

  • Sunflower (Helianthus spp.): While annual varieties are most common, perennial sunflowers offer seeds for birds.
  • Asters (Aster spp.): These plants provide late-season seeds and attract insects, offering birds a food source as other resources dwindle.

  • Goldenrod (Solidago spp.): Often unfairly blamed for allergies, goldenrod attracts a wide array of insects, which, in turn, attract insect-eating birds.
  • Sedum (Sedum spp.):  Also known as stonecrop, these succulents bloom late in the season, and their seed heads can provide food for birds into the winter.

  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis): While its primary draw is for hummingbirds, the insects it attracts can also provide a food source for insectivorous birds.

  • Berry-producing Shrubs:  While not strictly perennials, incorporating shrubs like Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)Viburnum (Viburnum spp.), and Dogwood (Cornus spp.) can offer fruits for birds and add structure to your garden.

Using native trees to attract songbirds

Planting a mix of these perennials can offer various benefits throughout the year, from seeds and fruits to attracting insects, all essential food sources for songbirds.

Additionally, these plants can provide shelter and nesting sites, making your garden a haven for local bird populations. You can add flowers in outdoor pots even with a small space. You will, in turn, create a wildlife habitat in your backyard.

Providing Adequate Shelter for Backyard Songbirds

Your backyard should offer various shelter options for birds to feel safe. Dense shrubs like staghorn sumac and silky dogwood create excellent protective cover. Birdhouses can serve as secure nesting sites when placed at proper heights and in suitable locations.

  • Trees & Shrubs: Planting oakshickories, and evergreens will provide year-round protection.
  • Brush Piles & Hedgerows: A simple brush pile in the corner of your garden can give birds a quick escape from predators. A well-planned hedgerow can offer food and shelter, especially for small birds.

Water Sources

A well-thought-out water feature is critical for creating a welcoming space for songbirds.

  • Birdbaths: A clean and shallow birdbath with a rough surface to prevent slipping can be a busy gathering spot. Check out these specific things you can do to attract birds to a bird bath.

  • Ponds & Wetlands: If you have the space, a pond or wetland area provides drinking, bathing, and food sources like aquatic insects.

Incorporating these specific habitats into your garden will bring the songbirds into your backyard.

Feeding and Nutrition

Creating a hospitable environment for songbirds involves providing them with the right types of food that cater to their specific dietary needs. Your choice of bird food can determine which species you’ll be successful in attracting to your garden.

Types of Bird Food for Songbirds

  • Seeds: Sunflower seeds appeal to various songbirds, such as finches, bluebirds, and grosbeaks. Offering a mix of bird seeds, including safflower, ensures that you cater to the varied tastes of different types of birds. Consider adding millet for ground-feeding birds like doves and thistle for goldfinches.

  • Suet: High in energy, suet feeders are especially beneficial during cold weather. It’s a favorite among woodpeckers, wrens, and robins.

  • Insects: Mealworms are a protein-rich option that can attract insectivorous birds such as bluebirds and robins.
  • Berries: Planting berry-producing plants in your garden can provide a natural food source for birds like the cedar waxwing. The red mulberry tree is popular among songbirds.

  • Nectar: Hummingbirds and orioles are drawn to nectar, so having a nectar feeder filled with a sugar solution can be particularly enticing.

Attracting Songbirds with Bird Feeders

  • Variety of Feeders: Utilizing different types of bird feeders can attract a broader range of species. Tube feeders work well for small perching birds, while platform feeders attract various birds, including grosbeaks and cardinals.

  • Location: Place your bird feeders in safe locations away from predators and where you can carefully observe the birds. Consider putting them near shrubs or trees, ideal for providing natural cover.

  • Maintenance: Regularly cleaning your bird feeders and providing fresh food will keep songbirds returning and help prevent the spread of disease.

Avoiding Hazards for Songbirds

When creating a haven for songbirds, your priority is to ensure their safety. Cats, both domestic and feral, are skilled hunters and can pose a significant threat to birds. To minimize risks:

  • Keep Cats Indoors: Keep your cats indoors, especially during birds’ nesting season.
  • Bell Collars: If your cats do go outside, fit them with collars that have bells to warn birds of their approach.

Using pesticides can harm both pests and the songbirds that feed on them. Here are safer alternatives:

  • Natural Pest Control: Encourage pest-eating insects by having plants that attract them.
  • Manual Removal: Hand-pick pests off plants where feasible.

For additional protection:

  • Birdhouses: Situate birdhouses away from high-traffic areas and predators.
  • Cover Windows: Use decals or screens to make glass more visible and prevent collisions.

Remember, your actions can directly impact the well-being of visiting songbirds.

Seasonal Considerations for Songbirds

When you are eager to welcome songbirds like hummingbirds and cedar waxwings into your garden, understanding the timing of their arrival is critical. Every season brings its own set of visitors.


  • Hummingbirds start their migration north and may arrive in your area. Prepare sugar water feeders to greet them.
  • Nesting material can be scarce, so supply materials like pet fur or small twigs.


  • Provide consistent water sources, as heat waves can be difficult for birds.


  • Migratory birds like cedar waxwings are on the move. They are attracted to fruiting shrubs and trees.


  • Non-migratory species will appreciate a steady supply of food. Suet and seed feeders should be kept full.
  • Water sources often freeze so that a heated birdbath can be beneficial.

Monthly Tips for How to Attract Songbirds

Remember to keep your bird feeding stations clean to prevent the spread of disease among your feathered friends.

Bird Watching Tips for Backyard Songbirds

Set Up a Bird Feeder: 

Start by placing a bird feeder in your garden to attract various songbirds. Ensure it’s visible from where you plan to do your birding so you can relax and enjoy the music of nature.

Create a Water Source: 

Add a birdbath or a small fountain. The sound of water is inviting, and watching the birds splash is fun!

Choose Native Plants: 

Plant native shrubs and flowers. Native plants not only beautify your garden but also provide natural food sources that are familiar to local songbirds.

Be Patient: 

Remember, bird watching is a matter of patience. Birds will come, but they may need time to discover and feel safe in your garden.

Keep a Record: 

Keep a bird journal to note the different species that visit. This practice enriches your birding experience and helps you track garden visitors.

Minimize Disturbance: 

Stay quiet and keep movements to a minimum to avoid disturbing the birds. Your peaceful presence will make them more likely to return.

Use Appropriate Gear: 

Investing in a good pair of binoculars enhances your birding experience. They allow you to see details from a distance without getting too close.

Learn Bird Calls: 

Familiarize yourself with the calls and songs of birds common to your area. This skill deepens your connection to your feathered guests and will help you become skilled in identification!

Remember, as you tune in to the rhythm of the birds, your garden becomes a sanctuary not just for them but also a place where you can unwind and enjoy the serenade.